Needs Assessment Pinpoints Challenges, Sets Priorities for Maryland’s Early Childhood System

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 - 9:45am

BALTIMORE (September 3, 2019) –  The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) this year received a one-year federal Preschool Development Birth through Five (PDG B-5) Grant, designed to help the State develop a plan to better utilize existing federal, state, local, and non-governmental resources to improve delivery of services for young children and their families. This grant will also help increase the number of children in high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs. 

The grant funded a statewide, comprehensive needs assessment that gathered input from early childhood stakeholders around the state—parents, child care providers, and school and community partners. The Needs Assessment process, implemented throughout the spring of this year, involved several activities designed to maximize stakeholder input, including 18 town hall meetings across the State; 17 regional focus groups; and surveys.

“We must adapt and evolve to address these needs—especially for low-income and underserved families— to strengthen collaboration, improve program awareness and increase access,” said Steven Hicks, Assistant State Superintendent of the Division of Early Childhood. “The needs assessment is just one of the ways improve educational opportunities for our youngest learners and give our children the start they deserve.”

The Needs Assessment findings have been compiled into two reports that are released today. These findings will be used to inform the development of the State’s early childhood strategic plan.

Some of the key findings from the Needs Assessment are:

  • Many Marylanders experience limited access to ECE services, especially vulnerable families including families of children with special needs, families of English Learners (ELs), immigrant families, low-income families, and families living in rural areas.
  • Families struggle to navigate the ECE system, and parents often do not know about programs and services available to them.
  • Despite efforts to improve the coordination of Maryland’s ECE programs, the system is still fragmented.
  • Improving parent awareness of services can help with ECE services access.
  • ECE professionals experience access barriers to teacher preparation and professional development programs, which leads to a shortage of qualified staff across the state.
  • Data-driven decision making is made more difficult by gaps in coordinated data systems.  

The reports, as well as executive summaries, are available by following this link:​.

MSDE, in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Department of Human Services, will host four Community Roundtables across the state to begin the process of developing a 5-year comprehensive strategic plan for Maryland’s ECE system with interested stakeholders on the following dates: 

•           September 6: Frederick County

•           September 13: Talbot County

•           September 16: Prince Georges County

•           September 17: Baltimore City

Each session will run from 9:30am to 12:00pm and will include the same content and activities. A light breakfast will be served.  Register to attend a session at: More information about Maryland’s PDG B-5 grant can be found by following this link: